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Abandoned boats a headache for Regional Council

Earlier in February,  Waikato Regional Council (WRC) staff had to arrange the removal and disposal of a wrecked boat from Waiomu Bay on the Thames coast. 
 |  Dorothy Preece  | 

Waikato Regional Harbourmaster, Chris Bredenbeck, said the owner informed the council that he had attempted to anchor it to the rocks at the end of the Waiomu Bay.

“Inevitably, the vessel ended up on top of the rocks punching multiple holes in the hull,” Chris said.

“Council attended as soon as it was reported, to ensure there was no oil spill that could adversely affect the environment. The vessel was removed from the beach a few days later, with the help of the community. It was in very poor condition and could not be repaired.”

Chris says there are dozens of very old vessels rotting in harbours all around New Zealand, and they present a big problem.

“It is very expensive to maintain old vessels and when they are not maintained, they fall quickly into disrepair.

“Often the owners are physically or financially unable to maintain them, or else it is someone’s dream ‘one day’ to repair them.

“It is the owner’s responsibility to remove the vessel at their cost, but when they don’t have the capacity to do that, or when we can’t find the owner, the Waikato Regional Harbourmaster can use the powers in the Maritime Transport Act to remove the vessel for disposal.”

Chris Bredenbeck said the Regional Council explores all avenues for the vessel’s owner to take appropriate action.

“Just recently an owner removed his vessel from the Whitianga Harbour to be disposed at his cost. That is the best outcome.”

He said those costs can amount to anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000.

“Our budget is limited and we have to prioritise those vessels most at risk.

“Sometimes we have no choice if they have sunk or grounded on a beach, or if they pose a threat to navigation. When they sink, the costs are very high, both to WRC and to the environment. Regional Council does its best to recover these costs from the owners. Chris continued, “There is very little of value on a derelict vessel, so the only option is to break it up and send it to the landfill.”

He advises anyone who is struggling to maintain a boat in the harbour, to reach out to Waikato Regional Council to discuss the situation.

“We will do all we can to work with you,” he said.